Psychology and Behavioral Economics : Applications for Public Policy book cover
2nd Edition

Psychology and Behavioral Economics
Applications for Public Policy

Edited By

Kai Ruggeri

ISBN 9781032005409
Published September 22, 2021 by Routledge
408 Pages 68 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Psychology and Behavioral Economics offers an expert introduction to how psychology can be applied to a range of public policy areas. It examines the impact of psychological research for public policymaking in economic, financial, and consumer sectors; in education, healthcare, and the workplace; for energy and the environment; and in communications.

Your energy bills show you how much you use compared to the average household in your area. Your doctor sends you a text message reminder when your appointment is coming up. Your bank gives you three choices for how much to pay off on your credit card each month. Wherever you look, there has been a rapid increase in the importance we place on understanding real human behaviors in everyday decisions, and these behavioral insights are now regularly used to influence everything from how companies recruit employees through to large-scale public policy and government regulation. But what is the actual evidence behind these tactics, and how did psychology become such a major player in economics? Answering these questions and more, this team of authors, working across both academia and government, present this fully revised and updated reworking of Behavioral Insights for Public Policy.

This update covers everything from how policy was historically developed, to major research in human behavior and social psychology, to key moments that brought behavioral sciences to the forefront of public policy. Featuring over 100 empirical examples of how behavioral insights are being used to address some of the most critical challenges faced globally, the book covers key topics such as evidence-based policy, a brief history of behavioral and decision sciences, behavioral economics, and policy evaluation, all illustrated throughout with lively case studies.

Including end-of-chapter questions, a glossary, and key concept boxes to aid retention, as well as a new chapter revealing the work of the Canadian government’s behavioral insights unit, this is the perfect textbook for students of psychology, economics, public health, education, and organizational sciences, as well as public policy professionals looking for fresh insight into the underlying theory and practical applications in a range of public policy areas.

Table of Contents

About this Book


Prof. Jay Van Bavel


  1. Psychology and policy
  2. Kai Ruggeri, Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes, Maja Friedemann, and Fadi Makki

  3. A brief history of behavioral and secision sciences
  4. Kai Ruggeri, Jana B. Berkessel, Philipe M. Bujold, Maja Friedemann, Hannes Jarke, Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes, Mary MacLennan, Sahana K. Quail, Felice L. Tavera, Sanne Verra, Faisal Naru, Filippo Cavassini, and Elizabeth Hardy

  5. An introduction to behavioral economics
  6. Kai Ruggeri, Hannes Jarke, Maja Friedemann, Faisal Naru, and Francesca Papa

  7. Economic, financial, and consumer behavior
  8. Kai Ruggeri, Maja Friedemann, Jakub M. Krawiec, Hannes Jarke, Sahana K. Quail, Alessandro F. Paul, Tomas Folke, and Enrico Rubaltelli

  9. Health behavior and decision-making in healthcare 
  10. Hannes Jarke, Kai Ruggeri, Johanna Graeber, Markus R. Tünte, Olatz Ojinaga-Alfageme, Sanne Verra, Dafina Petrova, Amel Benzerga, Zorana Zupan. and Matteo M. Galizzi

  11. Energy and environmental behavior
  12. Sara Morales Izquierdo, Manou Willems, Kai Ruggeri, Johanna Emilia Immonen, Amel Benzerga, Ondrˇej Kácha, Kai, Ruggeri, and Sander van der Linden

  13. Education and behavior
  14. Carly D. Robinson, Thomas Lind Andersen, Clair Davison, Emir Demić, Hamish Evans, Mafalda Fontinha Mascarenhas, Shannon P. Gibson, Renata Hlavova, Wing Yi Lam, Silvana Mareva, Aleksandra Yosifova, and Kai Ruggeri

  15. Work and workplace decison-making
  16. Ralitsa Karakasheva, Jascha Achterberg, Jana B. Berkessel, Alessia Cottone, Julia Dhar, Jon M. Jachimowicz, Yuna S. M. Lee, Ashley Whillans, and Kai Ruggeri

  17. Communications and behavioral economics
  18. Marlene Hecht, Nejc Plohl, Bojana Većkalov, Julia P. Stuhlreyer, Kai Ruggeri, and Sander van der Linden

  19. Evidence-based policy
  20. Kai Ruggeri, Olatz Ojinaga-Alfageme, Amel Benzerga, Jana B. Berkessel, Maja Friedemann, Renata Hlavová, Marvin Kunz, Nejc Plohl, Felicia Sundström, and Tomas Folke

  21. Policy evaluation and behavioral economics
  22. Kai Ruggeri, Julia P. Stuhlreyer, Johanna Emilia Immonen, Silvana Mareva, Maja Friedemann, Alessandro F. Paul, Matthew Lee, and Rachel C. Shelton

  23. Behavioral insights – A Government of Canada perspective
  24. Elizabeth Hardy, Haris Khan, and Meera Paleja

  25. Behavioral Impacts for public policy
  26. Kai Ruggeri




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Kai Ruggeri is Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, USA. He also founded the Policy Research Group at the University of Cambridge, UK, which is now part of the Centre for Business Research in the Judge Business School. His research focuses on population-level behaviors and how to better use these in public policy to reduce economic inequality and improve population well-being.


Praise for a previous edition:

'Written by a team of authors working across both academia and government, Behavioral Insights for Public Policy examines how psychology can be applied to a range of public policy areas. The reader addresses a wide variety of concepts and cases from the origins of policy, as well as major findings from behavioural economics and nudge theory. It also presents applications of behavioural insights into health, wealth and finance, the consumer, energy and the environment, education, and the workplace, as well as public engagement.'

Journal of Consumer Policy